[JPL] Beat defies limits of label Hypnotic drums take trip to old, new realms By Howard Reich Tribune arts critic

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Thu Dec 13 06:52:35 EST 2007




Beat defies limits of label

Hypnotic drums take trip to old, new realms

By Howard Reich

Tribune arts critic

December 12, 2007

Only in Chicago:

On a freezing Monday night, a capacity crowd squeezed into a South Side jazz
club to hear some of the most unconventional, provocative, wholly
unpredictable musicmaking yet conceived. Not a note of it was written down
or ever could be -- it was too free-ranging and complex to be reduced to
mere dots on paper.

Instead the Moye-Williamson Sun Percussion Summit -- as outlandishly
creative an ensemble as any in jazz -- invented new musical forms on the
spot, even as it built upon ancient African models. The whole sweep of jazz
history and its antecedents often seemed compressed into this concert, which
will be repeated Monday at the same venue: the Velvet Lounge at 67 E. Cermak

Though there were more than a few rough spots during the first of two sets,
the creativity of the performance attested to the perpetually rejuvenating
qualities of South Side jazz. It also underscored the remarkable power of
experimental music to attract a large and passionate following in this city.
The location may have been remote for many listeners, the music challenging
for most and the weather uncomfortable for all, yet people kept streaming
into the room, elbowing one another to get a better view of the action.

The evening began auspiciously, when Famoudou Don Moye -- best known as
percussionist for the celebrated Art Ensemble of Chicago -- convened more
than a dozen players around him at the foot of the stage. Before long, Moye
and his colleagues were chanting and hand-clapping, as if in a church

>From this point forth, the Sun Percussion Summit performed not as one but as
several distinct ensembles, breaking off into solos, duos, trios, quartets
and other combinations, often within the course of a single piece of music.
The ebb and flow of this performance defied expectations yet proved
thoroughly persuasive. A Moye solo on hand-held drums might be followed by a
trio of Afro-Cuban percussionists; a passage of extended drum improvisation
evoking the sound of ancient Africa could be superseded by a blues-drenched
solo from guitarist Herb Walker.

No aspect of jazz past or present fell outside the interests of the Sun
Percussion Summit. When this band was pushing hardest, its players
telegraphing multiple beats under the direction of Moye and Enoch
Williamson, one hardly could think of a more gripping way to experience

The Moye-Williamson Sun Percussion Summit performs at 8 p.m. Monday at the
Velvet Lounge; $10; 312-791-9050.


hreich at tribune.com
Copyright © 2007, Chicago Tribune

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